Important Safety Features for Buying a Car

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When buying a car, the most important factor to consider is safety. Thankfully, there are many features available in modern cars to help ensure the safety of yourself and others when on the road. Regulating bodies such as ANCAP Safety conduct testing and provide consumers with safety ratings for various vehicles.

According to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, the number of road fatalities has dropped from 3,798 in 1970 to 1,226 in 2017. While fatalities are down, injuries obtained from car accidents have been increasing since 2001. One theory for this relates to transport safety technologies in Australia placing a focus on saving lives over preventing injuries.

The introduction of modern technologies such as Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and Autonomous Vehicles (AV) could lead to an increase in road safety, says CARRS-Q. The research institute states that road fatalities could be reduced by as much as 90% through the adoption of AVs. 

But what safety features are Australians looking for in a car? We’ve conducted a survey of 899 Australians to find out!
Car safety features

Gen Y are most concerned about cars having airbags

In our study, a third of Gen Y drivers (33.5%) named airbags as the most important safety feature to look for when buying a car. However, only 25% of Gen X drivers and 23% of Baby Boomers named airbags as the most important feature.Some intro text here.

This trend could suggest that younger drivers are more aware of the impact and importance of airbags for car safety. While some Boomers and Gen X drivers grew up in a time where airbags did not come with cars as standard, as per laws today.

As such, ANCAP has have called for the phase out of cars made before 2002, referred to as “death traps” to ensure the increased safety of road users. Older cars offer less protection in the case of a crash, while newer models contain an increasing level of sophisticated technology designed to protect drivers in pre-collision scenarios.

Most people know about the frontal airbags – those that generally deploy from the steering wheel during a collision. But did you know there are many different kinds of supplementary airbags that can often be found in cars? Some of these additional airbags include knee airbags, side airbags, Head Protection Technology (HPT), and Additional Occupant Protection Airbags. There are also pedestrian airbags, designed to protect the head of an adult pedestrian should they be struck by a car. Airbags are one of the important safety features that ANCAP consider when making their safety assessment of a car.

Airbags have strict safety standards, as can be seen in the recent Takata recall. The largest recall in automotive history saw the removal of around 100 million cars worldwide after the faulty airbags were linked to at least 18 deaths and approximately 180 injuries. The airbags inflate with the aid of canisters and contain ammonium nitrate which can can fatally combust when deployed.

12.8% Of Respondents Said Seat Belts Are Important

The second-most common response to the question was seat belts, at 12.8%. In Australia, seatbelts are a legal safety requirement of all modern cars. According to ANCAP, for maximum safety, “all occupants should wear retractable three-point sash style seat belts with pretensioner technology that helps prevent or manage the force of impact during a crash”. Seat belts are definitely a very important safety feature, as ANCAP states that in almost 20% of Australia road fatalities, the occupants weren’t wearing seat belts. 

Safety features related to seat belts include audible seat belt reminders and seat belt dash lights. Currently, ANCAP’s lowest rated car is the Great Wall Motors Steed, with a rating of two out of five stars. This vehicle received a score of two out of three for seat belt reminders, and a rating of “marginal” regarding whiplash protection. The image below shows the Great Wall Motors Steed simulating a crash scenario:

https://www.ancap.com.au/safety-ratings/great-wall-motors/steed/f1caf2

After Airbags, Men Are Most Concerned About Traction Control

Another popular answer was brakes, with 12.5% stating them as the most important safety feature for a car. Commonly referred to as ABS or ALS, Anti-Lock Brakes come installed with all new cars. Brakes are something that many drivers take for granted, but how exactly do these brakes work?

ABS brakes work similar to non-ABS brakes, however, along with the typical hydraulic brake system they also contain a hydraulic modular unit, an electronic control unit, and a wheel speed sensor. This wheel speed sensor sends data to the computer, allowing it to detect an impending wheel lock up when brakes are engaged.

Cars with ABS systems installed usually also contain a Brake Assist function which can detect an emergency brake application regardless of the pedal pressure exerted by the driver. This Brake Assist then applies maximum brake force, to bring the vehicle to an abrupt stop.

It’s important to regularly conduct basic safety checks on your vehicle. The Queensland Government recommends checking your handbrake to make sure it holds your car still when on steep hills. Having your car serviced regularly by a professional is also recommended to ensure everything is working correctly and to catch any minor issues before they become more costly.

Methodology

This study was conducted online between 20 December 2018 and December 2018

The total sample was 899 distributed throughout Australia, as follows:

  • 18-34 - 272
  • 35-54 - 265
  • 55+ - 180
  • Male - 442
  • Female - 306
  • Unknown - 151
Upon completion of survey, the data was weighted by age, gender and geographic averages to accurately reflect Australian population estimates.